Car Catches on Fire as Driver Uses Hand Sanitizer While Smoking Cigarette: Fire Chief

May 14, 2021 Updated: May 14, 2021

A fire official in Maryland is issuing a warning to people after a Maryland motorist’s vehicle caught on fire after he used hand sanitizer while smoking a lit cigarette.

The 66-year-old male driver of the vehicle escaped the vehicle safely but suffered first- and second-degree burns on his hands and legs, officials said.

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service said that officials responded to a vehicle fire at a Trader Joe’s parking lot in Rockville on Thursday afternoon. Photos and videos posted by fire Chief Spokesperson Pete Piringer showed the vehicle covered in flames and surrounded by smoke.

“He stated that he had just finished grocery shopping,” Piringer told Newsweek. “Upon entering his 2000 Toyota Camry to leave the parking lot, he filled his hands with a copious amount of hand sanitizer and while working the sanitizer into his hands, embers fell from the cigarette in his mouth, igniting the sanitizer and then his clothing.”

Piringer told the outlet that the vehicle was a total loss after the blaze.

“Using hand sanitizer [and] smoking a cigarette … is a bad combo in an unventilated area like a car,” he separately wrote on Twitter.

In the past year, a number of Americans have purchased hand sanitizer due to federal guidance around the COVID-19 pandemic.